Norfolk Tides pitcher Mike Wright said he was a little disappointed that he didn't see outfielder Mikie Mahtook in the Durham Bulls lineup Wednesday night.
But with his former Bulls nemesis in the major leagues with the parent Tampa Bay Rays as of last week, Wright waited through a two-hour, 39-minute rain delay and mowed down the remaining Bulls, throwing six shutout innings as Norfolk downed Durham 8-0 in the Bulls' International League home opener at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Chris Parmelee sparked the Tides with a two-run homer in the first inning that got them going. He also drove in a run with a single in the fourth.
Wright, a 6-foot-5 right-hander who was a third-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 out of East Carolina, has had his share of success tinged with disappointment against the Bulls.
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Twice last year Wright came close to throwing a no-hitter against the Bulls, and both times Mahtook broke up the bids.
On Aug. 21, Mahtook's two-out, two-strike double in the ninth inning at DBAP ended Wright's effort one strike shy of a no-hitter, one batter after a two-out throwing error extended the game. Then on Aug. 29 at Norfolk, Mahtook singled with one out in the seventh for the first Durham hit of the game.
“Actually I was a little disappointed he wasn't here,” Wright said. “It would be nice to have a little reunion.”
Wright (1-0) had to content himself with strutting his stuff before a large following of family and friends from back home in Scotland County. “Maybe a third was my family and friends,” he said in exaggeration of the crowd of 8,297. “Plus a couple from Whiteville High School. That's where I graduated from.”
Wright served notice that he has retained his mastery of the Bulls this season. He allowed only three hits, struck out four and walked two after going 1-1 against Durham in 2014, when the Bulls hit only .115 against him and struck out 31 times in 28.1 innings. He is rated the No. 7 prospect in the Orioles organization by MLB.com and No. 8 by Baseball America.
“It's nothing against the Bulls, but that's always in the back of your mind,” he admitted. “I've had some ups and downs, but I felt really good this spring.”
Left-hander Patrick McCoy worked three innings of one-hit relief for Norfolk for his first save.
Bulls manager Jared Sandberg said Wright showed the ability to move his fastball around and later went to a slider that kept the Bulls off balance.
Veteran left-hander Everett Teaford (0-1) took the loss for the Bulls. Teaford, who pitched last year in Korea for the LG Twins, had thrown five shutout innings in his first start for the Bulls last week at Gwinnett, but he was no mystery to the Tides. Norfolk banged out 10 hits and scored seven runs, six earned, off him in four innings.
Parmelee's homer, his second of the year, was the first allowed by a Durham pitcher this season, and Sandberg said the blast, on an 0-2 pitch, seemed to unsettle Teaford.
“He started working faster and faster,” Sandberg said. “He needed to regroup, take a deep breath and step back, but he kept going faster and faster.”
For his part, Sandberg was forced to stick with his starter longer than he would have preferred because of early-season injuries and call-ups.
“We're a little short right now,” Sandberg admitted. “With the lack of pitching depth, we needed him to stay in there. And as a starting pitcher, he needed to stretch out. The 90-pitch level was where we wanted him.”
Center fielder Daniel Alvarez had three hits for the Tides, while left fielder Nolan Reimold and first baseman Christian Walker had two apiece. Audry Perez and Henry Urrutia had RBI singles in a two-run third for the Tides, and Alvarez drove in a run with a single during a three-run rally in the fourth, with another run scoring on an infield error. Jayson Nix added an RBI single in the ninth off Brandon Gomes, the fourth Bulls pitcher of the night.
Right fielder Joey Butler extended his hitting streak to six games for the Bulls with a line single to left in the second.
The Bulls and Tides will play the second game of their four-game seriesThursday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Matt Buschmann (1-0, 0.00) will start for Durham against Norfolk left-hander T.J. McFarland (0-1, 10.80).